Sunday, March 29, 2009

Not quite right!

Earth Hour 2009 is being claimed to be a huge success with millions of people across over 2000 cities participating in this hour long initiative. I was curious about the magnitude of energy saved in the process and decided to scour the internet for some information. Though I did not find any data representative of worldwide energy savings, I did find information about some cities and states in their respective regional news articles. However, what was interesting was the frivolous use of power and energy as same and interchangeable in various news articles.

For example, the Brisbane Times reports:
In total, about 195 megawatts of electricity were saved across South East Queensland: the equivalent of turning off more than 300,000 standard plasma televisions for one hour while last year, enough energy for 500,000 plasmas was saved.
Well, turning off 300,000 plasma televisions for one hour, at a rated power in watts, should be an energy saving in watt-hours. Similary BusinessWorld reports from Manila, Philippines:
The Energy department said at the weekend that Luzon saved as much as 500 megawatts (MW), the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) reported that power consumption in Cebu went down by 48 MW, while the main cities of Davao and Zamboanga in Mindanao saved about 50 MW.
I believe, savings should be in terms of energy whereas decrease in load or consumption should be reported in terms of its time-derivative, power. To draw an analogy (though not a perfect analogy), if we take a shorter route while traveling from point A to B in a fixed time, we say that we saved some distance and not velocity.

Some of them have been more considerate to this difference, such as this one:
The reduction in electricity usage in the City of Chicago and ComEd's northern Illinois service territory during Earth Hour was estimated to be about 100 megawatt hours.
One possibility for this neglect might be that the Earth Hour was exactly 1 hr long and quantitatively it made no difference.

PS: On an entirely unrelated note, I found this article on the changing perspective towards nuclear energy. What was interesting was this hitherto unknown information to me: coal ash is more radioactive than nuclear waste!


Ideamotor said...

I recently was reading about the new Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and came across this article-

Mr. Chu states here that coal plants emit more radiation than nuclear. The article actually says it's due to "flyash" emissions instead of "fly ash" so it's nice to see a more informed article on the subject. It seems pretty significant that Mr. Chu dislikes coal so much.

abhishek gaurav said...

i don't think they knew its 1 hour so MW would be just fine...It is too much for them...hahaha

Som said...

@Ideamotor - Yeah and I found it to be quite a startling revelation too. And you generally have a plethora of such information pouring out when something is gaining favor. Perspectives change. More often, perspectives are altered. :)

@abhishek: Maybe, but you'll never know!